NCAA basketball referee Ted Valentine is the biggest name in college officiating. Many fans have taken to disliking him because of his bombastic style. Yet most coaches hold him in high regard. In the summer of 2017, CBS Sports polled more than 100 Division I men's basketball coaches on who they considered the best official. Valentine received the third-most votes.  

But Valentine, who's occasionally induced controversy over the past two decades of his career due to his animated refereeing technique, is in the middle of one of the biggest storylines he's ever been associated with. His decision to momentarily turn his back on North Carolina senior Joel Berry during the Tar Heels' game Wednesday at Florida State brought on immediate criticism. The gesture went viral on social media and continued to be a topic of discussion on national television shows and radio programs the next day.

All this attention has Valentine speaking out -- about leaving the profession. 

"I'm thinking about retiring," Valentine told The Athletic. "I've had enough of people blowing up stuff. I think I've had a stellar career, and I think it's time to get ready to walk away."

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According to Valentine, as a result of the incident and the attention it drew, the Big Ten removed him from two games he was assigned to work over the weekend – Friday's contest between Wisconsin and Rutgers, and Sunday's game between Ohio State and Michigan State. Valentine said the ACC gave him the option of working Georgia Tech's home game against Yale on Saturday, but he decided to pass and spend a rare winter weekend at home.

Rick Boyages, the associate commissioner of the Big Ten who supervises officiating, declined comment when asked about the league's decision to remove Valentine from the games. The ACC's officiating coordinator, Bryan Kersey, also declined comment, saying in a text message that, "We are aware of the situation and are handling it internally."


Valentine also argued the incident was overblown. "It was just something that happened in the battle of the game. It's not really worth  talking about," he said. "Everybody reacted to what Jay Bilas wrote on Twitter. He made a comment about something and he didn't see the whole thing. This is the world we live in. Everybody wants to make you guilty before you're innocent."

A veteran NCAA official who spoke with Valentine on Sunday morning told CBS Sports that Valentine was initially intending to "lay low" this weekend and that his comments to The Athletic were "shocking." 

Among his peers Valentine is considered elite, but he's also seen by some as a referee that's brought on way too much attention. One official told CBS Sports that Valentine "wants it to go away." Valentine has worked 10 Final Fours in his career, a testament to his reputation as a game-caller. He most recently was on the whistle for UNC-Oregon in the 2017 Final Four.  

"He's so crazy," one coach told CBS Sports last summer. "He's a little long in the tooth, and he's one of the of five best officials of all time, in my opinion, and we've had him a lot. I've had Crazy Ted, I've had Ted on his best nights. He doesn't anticipate anything. He sees the play through, and is going to give you a fair shake. Does not matter who you are playing. To this day I think he's terrific. Now, has he burned some bridges? Probably. But the guy can still manage a game and the stuff that comes along with it."

Valentine primarily works ACC and Big Ten games. After a rare weekend off during conference play, he's scheduled to be back on the floor this week. Judging from his comments, it seems Valentine's decision whether or not to retire later this year could hinge on how crowds and media react to him calling games going forward. His decision to speak out about leaving the profession will only bring in more attention.